263677 Student perceptions of free tap water at school: Is it just the unappealing drinking fountains?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012 : 11:02 AM - 11:13 AM

Sallie Yoshida, DrPH, RD , Samuels & Associates, Oakland, CA
Mariah Lafleur, MPH , Samuels & Associates, Oakland, CA
Maria Boyle, MS, RD , Samuels & Associates, Oakland, CA
Sarah Samuels, DrPH , Samuels & Associates, Oakland, CA
Kumar Chandran, MS, MPH , Share Our Strength, Washington, DC
INTRODUCTION: Children's poor access to free and appealing tap water is a public health concern because consuming water, as an alternative to sugary beverages, may be a simple and effective obesity-prevention strategy. In the fall of 2010, investigators conducted research to understand student perspectives of the factors that influence water consumption at school and to ultimately inform policy strategies to promote water consumption.

METHODS: Thirty-two California high school students (17 boys/15 girls) participated in focus groups examining opinions and practices around drinking water. Youth were Latino (53%), mixed race (25%), and African American (22%). Transcribed audio-recordings were analyzed using content analysis to identify codes and themes.

RESULTS: Most students reported: 1) rarely drinking from school water fountains because they were dirty and the water tasted bad, 2) recognizing the positive health benefits of drinking water, 3) likely drinking free tap water if clean, good tasting, cool water was easily available and accessible, 4) social stigma was not a barrier to drinking from water fountains, 5) consuming a wide variety of sports drinks and sugary beverages on a daily basis, and 6) they would likely drink the beverages that were available to them on school campuses.

DISCUSSION: Students desire clean and good tasting tap water in schools. Their view of undesirable water fountains is a major barrier, as this is the most common source of free tap water on school campuses. Strategies that alter this negative perception and policies that ensure safe, clean, and drinkable tap water from fountains are needed.

Learning Areas:
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe three barriers to studentsí ability to consume free tap water during the school day. 2. List three strategies to promote free tap water consumption during the school day. 3. Discuss the importance of water consumption as a childhood obesity prevention strategy.

Keywords: Water, Obesity

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I was the lead researcher on this project and was involved in the design, analysis and reporting of findings.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.